NSW govt's election promise: Digital licences and police tech

The NSW Baird government has committed to rolling out the option for people to opt in for digital licences, and investing AU$100 million in new technology for NSW Police.

The Baird government has promised that if it is re-elected in the New South Wales state election on March 28, it plans to roll out digital licences over the next four years.

The government said this will give Australians the choice, for the first time, to have a range of the common licences, including NSW photo cards, boat and fishing licences, and eventually drivers' licences, in a digital format, eliminating the need to carry multiple licences in their wallets.

It will be an opt-in option, and physical licences will continue to be available.

The government has appointed the Digital Council to develop a road map to execute the promise. The Digital Council will be chaired by customer service commissioner Mike Pratt, who will be joined by experts from Police, Roads and Maritime Services, Office of Finance, and Service NSW. The council will also seek input from the corporate sector.

NSW Minister for Finance and Services Dominic Perrottet said the plan is to offer NSW residents a more convenient licensing system that will match the digital shift seen in other sectors.

"Customers are doing more and more transactions on their smartphones. From cafes to banks, businesses are offering customers the opportunity to access their services, loyalty programs, and payment systems through smartphone apps," he said.

"While the private sector has shifted to digital, the NSW government must do the same."

Perrottet added that the plan is expected to save the government "tens of millions of dollars" from needing to print plastic cards each year.

In a separate announcement last week, the state government plans to invest AU$100 million over the next four years in technology that will assist NSW Police with investigations.

Some technologies will include body-worn video cameras that will be rolled out in stages to all front-line officers; tablet computers for front-line officers to access police computer resources in the field; mobile fingerprint scanners for instant offender identification in the field; and TruNarc handheld testing machines to enable police to scan for multiple narcotics.

The technology rollouts will be in addition to the current NSW Police trial with 500 Samsung Galaxy smartphones. As part of the pilot, front-line police officers are able to conduct background checks on vehicles and persons of interest while in the field.